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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Interview With Author Sheila Roberts


Sheila Roberts has written a number of Christmas-themed novels over the last few years. One of them, On Strike for Christmas, was made into a movie for Lifetime Movie Channel. Her newest book, Merry Ex-Mas focuses on three female friends and the  different states their relationships are at - -and how the challenges of being divorced with kids or staying in a bad relationship is especially heightened during the holidays. Here is an interview with the author whose earlier book, Angel Lane, was a top 10 Amazon Romance Pick in 2009.

  1. What inspired you to write Merry Ex-Mas? Actually, a friend suggested the idea and I thought it would be an interesting subject to explore. The holidays can get crazy. They can get especially crazy when dealing with former spouses and having to share kids. I hope my characters prove that we can survive it all and still find a way to celebrate the season.
  2. What is it about? This book centers on three friends. Cass Wilkes has a daughter getting married and the daughter not only wants her father to walk her down the aisle, but daddy and his trophy wife need a place to stay and it looks like they’ll be home for the holidays... in Cass’s house. Her friend Charley sees the ghost of Christmas past, her ex-husband who left her for another woman. Now he’s back in town and wanting to reconcile. Even if it is the season of peace on earth, goodwill toward men, this is probably not a good idea. And then we have Ella and her ex-husband Jake, who are stuck sharing their house until it sells. (One of my girlfriends told me about a relative who was actually doing this and I found that idea hugely intriguing.)
  3. You have written several other Christmas-themed novels. What is it about the holiday that gives you a good story line? There’s just so much potential for drama and hope in the holidays. It’s a time of year when we celebrate in so many different ways and do so many different things. Christmas is my absolute favorite holiday, so I seem to keep getting drawn to that. I’ve written about everything from cats to snow globes. And I hope with every novel I’m giving readers some laughs and some encouragement, and that when they’re finished they come away with a smile.
  4. One of your books was turned into a television movie on Lifetime. Why do you feel you have a strong following of readers? Yes, On Strike for Christmas became a movie a couple of years back. To celebrate, I hosted my own red carpet party with plenty of chocolate and champagne. I bought a big swath of red fabric and laid it out on the floor and conducted red carpet interviews with some of my guests. Very fun. And maybe fun has something to do with why readers enjoy my novels. I think we all need to escape the pressures of our lives once in awhile. And I think we like to come away feeling hopeful. I try to offer that to my readers.
  5. You write about female friends and their relationships. Do women talk about their relationships too much or too little? The answer to that probably depends on who’s doing the talking! I think sometimes we women can share a little too much information. But overall, I believe it’s helpful to be able to talk about our problems with our girlfriends. Sometimes a smart girlfriend is better than a shrink. And cheaper!
  6. Why are the holidays a challenging time for divorced couples, especially if they share kids in common? Family togetherness has become inextricably linked with this time of year, and while that’s great for the family that’s in tact, it’s not so fun when the family has been broken. This can be a difficult season for someone who’s divorced. Memories haunt you, hurts strike out and hit you. And at a time of year when we’re bombarded with images of happy families seated around a holiday table or opening presents under the tree, if your kids are at someone else’s table and enjoying someone else’s tree it doesn’t exactly put you in a festive mood. Most families find a way around this but from what I’ve seen, it doesn’t look easy.  Someone in my extended family has to make the rounds and eat three Christmas dinners in one day. Yikes! That’s a lot of red velvet cake.
  7. What advice do you have for reducing the holiday stress that goes with family and friends? First, limit your exposure to the people who make you crazy. Sometimes we feel we need to spend a lot of time around that one person we can’t stand because, after all, it is the holidays. Not necessarily. Send a card or a fruit basket and leave it at that. If you feel you must make a visit, keep it short and then scram. Second, compromise. If you share children with an ex, try thinking of yourself as a holiday diplomat. Your goal is good relations with your other half and that usually involves some give and take. (After a successful negotiation, reward yourself with chocolate.) Last but not least, build in some stress relief. Plan a “silent night” where you stay home and enjoy a bubble bath, watch your favorite holiday movie on TV or read a good book. ‘Tis the season to be jolly so make sure you do just that.
  8. You did something unusual in conjunction with Merry Ex-Mas. What was it? This was one of the most fun things I’ve ever done! We took over a great local pub and made a music video about Jake, one of the characters in the book. Check out Merry Christmas Mama on Youtube  (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MssZlpob0os)and you’ll see me and some wonderful musicians in action. By the way, no mothers-in-law were hurt in the filming of this video. Although I think poor Santa got a hernia.
  9. Why do so many novelists write about friendships? I don’t know about other novelists, but I write about friendships because I think they’re important. I believe friends are one of God’s greatest blessings. Where would we be without friends to help us celebrate the good times and help us through the bad times? I have fabulous friends. So do the characters in my books. Well, I think they’re great anyway.
  10. What advice do you have for struggling writers these days? 1.) Keep learning your craft. I’ve been writing for years and I still pick up how-to books on writing and read articles about both the craft and the business of writing. I’m always working to improve myself. 2.) Keep writing. You can’t become a successful writer if you don’t write on a regular basis. It’s rather like the old Lotto slogan: You can’t win if you don’t play. 3.) Write because you love to write, not because you hope to become rich and famous. If you do that you won’t be disappointed. (And if you get rich and famous, well, that will be a nice bonus.)
  11. Where do you see book publishing heading? Right now, trying to answer that question is like trying to see through a thick fog. Who knows? One thing I know for sure. The method of delivery may change, but people will always want a good story.
Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. Please note Sheila Roberts is a client of the PR company that I work for. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Does Facebook Have A Best-Seller List?


Facebook recently announced it signed up its one billionth user.  This means one out of seven world citizens are connected to the most popular social networking site.  What does this mean to the publishing world or Facebook?

For Facebook, it means they need to make more money.  Google nets $9.46 per unique visitor but FB only makes $1.42 per unique user annually. If FB just charged every user $5 a year to use its service, it would bring in five billion bucks.

Google and Yahoo make about $88 per person who use its search engine.  FB makes $15 per user.  FB is underselling what it has to offer.

Book publishing needs to partner strategically with new technology.  Right now people experiment.  Some authors and publishers create FB pages for authors or books.  They purchase ad packages.  They use FB to search for people they can connect with, in hopes of selling more books. But there’s no official service that FB offers to the publishing world to help market a book.  Maybe it should begin by creating a best-seller list.

It could tabulate sales only registered by FB users. It can be updated as often as Amazon’s list.  Further, it could set up a central book-buying section on the site. It would be great to see the FB community grow into one that talks about and sells books.

FB could certainly use the revenue.  So can publishing.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Bumper Sticker Society Needs Silence


This may sound strange coming from a marketing person but I think bumper stickers are not only dumb, but useless.

Perhaps you feel that way too.  I just wonder why so many people drive their car around like it were their Facebook page, listing all of their affiliations and views as if anyone cared.  Is the bumper sticker supposed to convert someone to your way of thinking? 

“Oh, who should I vote for president?  Maybe a stranger’s bumper sticker can give me great insight.”

Should the bumper sticker warrant praise?  Oh, your kid goes to Harvard? How nice. Let me stop you at the next light to tell you I love your school?  Or do I look at you with envy and jealousy?

Or what if your bumper sticker supports a competing sports team?  Should I tell you “screw you” at the next red light?

It seems like bumper stickers should be phased out but the truth is we live in a tattoo society – literally.  Everyone wears their life on their sleeve – or skin.  People feel like they have to tell everyone --all the time --what they like, what they did, and what they believe in, and who they support.  They tweet it.  They blog it.  They post it on FB.  Is my blog guilty of that as well? Perhaps.

We wear T-shirts, post signs, showcase bumper stickers, get tattoos, and do whatever we can to call attention to ourselves and all the things we stand for.  We are walking billboards.

It seems arrogant, self-centered, and bullying in certain respects.  Why do people feel compelled to publicly declare, often and always, as to what they think, like or just did?

I need a bumper sticker that sums up my view of all this public “advertising”:  WHO CARES?

Interview With Author & Photographer Dale Ryan

Dale  Ryan recently wrote a beautiful coffee-table book,   Sleeping With The Beast, which features photos and essays showcasing how our dogs have become such  treasured family members. She should know – she shares her bed with her husband – and five dogs! Here is an interview with her:

1.      Dale, what inspired you to write Sleeping With The Beast? The inspiration came from two places. The first was sitting in a tavern in the Cotswold’s, observing people and their dogs lounging about. This is not your typical American scene. At the same time, I was remodeling /renovating an entire farm. I had to take a pragmatic approach, which required careful examination of all our needs, whether two legged or four legged.

2.      What are the challenges to sleeping with five dogs and your husband on one bed? The biggest challenge is finding enough space and the fact my husband refuses to sleep on the sofa. LOL

3.      Having owned about 15 dogs over the years, please tell us why we love dogs so much? Dogs have unconditional love, while humans; have a tendency to place many expectations on their relationships.

4.      Are there drawbacks to owning so many dogs? Like all families, the larger the brood, the more challenging it is to meet all their needs. Incidentally, as time goes by, I dislike using the phrase  “dog owner,” I would much rather use “custodian” or “caretaker.”

5.      What is dinner time like in your house? It is a very disciplined process to feed a pack of dogs. Without careful planning (especially if you give meds with foods), your kitchen can become quite chaotic. I enjoy cooking for them.

6.      What is it about dogs that we cannot live without them? They remind us to be empathetic towards the world.

7.      How should one decorate their house with dogs in mind? I have a chapter in my book entitled “Decorating with Dogs,” which addresses this issue.  Whether you are decorating your public rooms to the hilt or just your private bath, decorating a house around dogs is a challenge. With careful planning your home can be both beautiful and easy to maintain.

8.      You write that you noticed at a young age that “nature and its beastly inhabitants were far more interesting than most people who surrounded me.” Why do we sometimes prefer canine companions to fellow humans? Firstly, nature is so provocative on its own terms and especially through a child’s eyes. As we grow up, people around us demand a different form of attention.
9.      Some people keep the bedroom off limits to their four-legged friends. Can the dogs interrupt your ability to be intimate with your husband? Of course, one’s first instinct would be to shut the dogs out of the bedroom during intimate moments. But there may be no need for that, as the dogs curiosity will wane and they will find their own amusement elsewhere.

10.  How should we allow our dogs to be beastly? Dogs love to rumble and tumble and be themselves. Dogs are aggressive with each other and one always wants to be the alpha dog. 

11.  What advice do you have for the grieving process when a pet dies? One of the reasons losing a beloved dog is so sorrowful is because their love for us is unconditional and we are so needful of it. As far as the grieving process is concerned, it is unavoidable and painful. Grieving is a natural process and it takes time for one to heal.

12.  What provisions should a dog owner make for their pets should their dog outlive them? It is important to make provisions for the care of your best friend. Always ask family member or friend if they would be willing to be the custodian for your dog, in the event of your own passing. Also, when possible, make financial provisions for the caretaking of your dog.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. Dale Ryan is a client of the PR firm I work for. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.
 

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Random House Merger Talks Could Signal Massive Publishing Changes



When I first began this blog one and a half years ago – and nearly 500 posts ago – I lamented the changes that were taking place in book publishing.  We had just witnessed the shuttering of the final Borders bookstore outlet and the Great Recession was teaming up with a digital revolution to transform the book publishing industry.  Today we are about to see the next phase:  publisher consolidation.

Random House, the nation’s largest book publisher, is in serious merger talks with Penguin.  The rumor was spread by the Financial Times, a paper owned by the same London-based company that owns Penguin, (Pearson).  Bertelsmann, the German-based media conglomerate, owns Random House.

Such a merger means:

  • Less competition in the marketplace of literary agents selling the works of authors and thus, smaller advances and fever bidding wars are to come

  • Layoffs at both publishers, where duplication exists, but could mean a cost-savings to the combined operation.

  • There will be more mergers.

  • RH-Penguin could be big and strong enough to compete without Amazon and form its own online store.

  • There is more uncertainty in the industry.

The book world soon could be left with fewer book publishers, just as it’s been left with fewer book stores.  After the next three to five years bears witness to what I believe could be merger mania amongst publishers, you will see a marketplace that will consist of competing business models.

The self-publishing industry continues to grow by leaps and bounds.  What could conceivably happen is that major distributors of self-published books will be elevated competitors to the shrinking of traditional publishers and/or some of the publishers will buy up the self-publish distributors so they can capitalize on the success of the fast-growing segment.

Another trend appears that foreigners will continue to buy up U.S. publishers.  UK’s Rupert Murdoch owns Harper Collins.  The French own Hachette and what was The Time Warner Book Group.  Who’s next?

Lastly, not only is there consolidation ahead for book publishers, but also for the news media – TV, radio, newspapers, and magazines.  Some of the media will merge with book publishers, the way ABC-Disney, CBS-Simon & Schuster, and Fox-Harper have.

And if Barnes & Noble’s stores continue to struggle and see shrinking paper book sales, we will see the loss of the last great book chain.  E-books will then reach a tipping point and by 2030 – when my daughter graduates college – printed books will be in antique shops and memorabilia shows.

But through all of these changes, one thing will hold true.  Content will be written, published, and sold at a level that exceeds today’s marketplace.  Venues will change.  Shifts in the market will continually create new winners and losers but we will always have a vibrant publishing world – whatever form it takes. 

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Taking Control Of Your Email Inbox


I worked until 8 o’clock the other night, mainly spending the last few hours doing one task:  cleaning out my email inbox.

I never felt better.

There is something cleansing about purging your inbox.  Every time I see the number of emails climb and the incoming ones outpace my human capacity to get to them, I feel an added bit of stress.  But, when I really looked at the hundreds of emails that needed to be addressed, I found that most of them had already been read and to a degree tended to, yet they occupied my visual real estate.

I stare at my computer screen all day and let these emails intimidate me.  They scream for attention but I’m too busy serving my clients, helping authors, managing PR campaigns, strategizing, coaching, and doing all of the things today’s modern book marketer does.  But those emails needed resolution.  Some got deleted.  Many just needed to be filed away for future reference.  A few needed an action to be taken.

Of course, once you go through the process of clearing out your inbox you are likely to do one of two things: keep up the good work and remain vigilant -- at least in the following days -- to make sure you remain in control of the inbox monster OR you feel so good in having cleared out your inbox that you think you bought yourself a few days of screwing off. But then, in no time, you’re back to having hundreds of emails warehousing in your computer.

Seizing the inbox is a bit like trying to go on a diet and win the weight battle.  Sadly, America is obese -- and so is our inbox!

IN CASE YOU MISSED THESE RECENT POSTS:


What Should Go On An Author OR Book Website

The Subject Line Is Your Pitch

25 Tips On What The Media Wants

25 More Tips Of What The Media Wants

12  Clicks Away From a bestseller

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

12 Clicks Away From A Best-Seller


To market your book with a measure of success you will need to play a numbers game and reach out to a certain amount of sales targets, a certain amount of times, and hope to breakthrough on at least a few occasions.  Part of your ability to be successful will depend on the quality of the emails you send out. Here are 12 tips on how to get more people to open and respond to your emails.

  1. Shorter emails are more inviting than longer ones.  Get to the point-but make sure they are long enough to say something substantive.

  1. Offer a link to click on – not three or five. Focus the reader to take a single action step.

  1. Create targeted content -- don’t send emails that some recipients will not find to be relevant.

  1. Personalize your emails.  Not only should you put the recipient’s name in it but put something in the email that sounds like you are speaking to them in a way that shows you understand their needs, desires, and circumstances.

  1. Send emails when the reader is likely to open them, such as peak-reading times in the morning or just after dinner.

  1. Don’t send attachments, distracting images, or multiple subjects.

  1. Make sure the font size is readable and that you don’t distract by overly bolding, underlining, capping, or italicizing too many words.

  1. Don’t just invite people to do something – such as follow you on Twitter.  Tell them why they should do so.  Give them the benefits and make them enticing.

  1. Segment your lists.  Don’t send the same email to everyone.

  1. Test your message to a certain sampling pool and see what type of response you get.  Adjust your message as needed.  Or simply try two different messages – one sent to one half of your list, the other to another half.

  1. Take into account what else is happening on the day you send your email.  What else is going on that may impact how they react to your email?  Should you send an email on Election Day?  Probably not.

  1. Lastly, did you inject some personality or emotion or humor into the content?  People want to feel something when they read your email – or it gets dismissed.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Who Is Fact-Checking Books?


In the recent round of political debates we’d hear the media say they are “fact-checking” the assertions made by each presidential candidate, so that the record could be set straight for a confused and ill-informed public.  It made me wonder:  Who is fact-checking the tons of books being published?

Half the books released every day come from self-published authors, many of whom don’t necessarily hire an editor to double-check their facts and statements.  For the books published by traditional publishers, university presses, and small independents, most will have editors go through a book to capture issues of spelling, syntax, and grammar, but many do not take on the role of fact-checker unless the occasional statistic or statement rouses suspicion.

Quite simply, authors and publishers don’t take the time or make available the resources to properly fact-check most of the books presented to the public.

The danger is two-fold:  First, the public becomes misinformed and acts on wrongful claims, faux facts, and distorted truths.  Additionally, the public begins to lose faith in the credibility of the books it purchases.  But neither danger seems to have inspired an industry-wide commitment to fact-checking.

The retailers don’t demand the books to be fact-checked any more than they demand any product do what it claims to do. They don’t feel it’s their job to take responsibility for what they sell.  Besides, if it’s found that a book is a lie or a product doesn’t work, the retailer will just remove the item from its shelves or Web site.  Retailers react but don’t preemptively “recall” a product.

So if authors, publishers, and retailers don’t check the facts, who will?  The news media?  They don’t have the time, space or resources to do it but in a few cases.  The consumer?  Librarians?  Who has the time, knowledge, or money to do that?

For now, we live in a time where truth is still optional for books -- and apparently for politicians.  It’s up to each of us to act as a fact-checker on all the information that floats across our screens and books.  But it’s a safe fact to say there’s a bit of baloney on everyone’s plate.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Where’s The Debate Over Books?


The recent series of political debates between Obama and Romney and Biden vs. Ryan are interesting because they highlight the political state of the country and help undecided voters to determine the fate of the country.  But they also call attention to something that’s missing in book publishing.

The industry is in need of a public debate on things like:

·         Self-publisher vs. Traditional publisher
·         Bookstore vs. Online sales
·         Newspapers vs. Blogs
·         Barnes and Noble vs. Amazon
·         Fiction vs. Non-Fiction
·         Paper books vs. E-books

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a publicly televised forum for real issues concerning authors, publishers, and retailers?  It may not be as intense as Republican vs. Democrat and the stakes may not be for world power but the book publishing industry certainly has some hefty issues to tackle. Who will talk about them and how will this long-awaited debate transpire?  It remains to be seen.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

25 More Tips On What The Media Truly Wants


I recently published a blog post:

25 Tips On What The Media Wants

Here are 25 more things the news media really wants, demands, likes, and needs:

1. For an author to talk to them without assuming they’ve read the book – because they likely have not.

2. Authors who are not egocentric and come off like know-it-alls.

3. Publicists to deliver on whatever was promised to them.

4. Those that contact them to think like them and understand their needs, goals, and challenges.

5. Examples or demonstrate details of the story angles that you assert should be used.

6. A good quote. Everyone wants that take-away zinger from an author that leaves a lasting impression.

7. Definitive, even extreme viewpoints to ponder.  If you espouse middle-of-the road ideas you are merely pitching mediocrity.

8. To cover people with large social media followings since they know the author will tweet about the interview or story.

9. Lists.  Top 5, 7, 10 of anything are always in demand.

10. Original content and not material that already ran on a blog or another media outlet.

11. To be treated respectfully and honestly with.

12. To hear a unique take on a hot topic.

13. Insight on trends, predictions, and long-term forecasts.

14. Access to polls, surveys, and studies.

15. Background information on the topic it will interview you about.

16. Suggested interview questions-and prefers a Q&A.

17. To see you have a media brand and credibility in the area you claim to be an expert in.

18. Fact over opinion or analysis over question-raising – or outrageous claims that can be backed up.

19. To cover topics of interest to their advertising demographic.

20. To follow the lead of other types of media.  If a newspaper breaks a story, TV will follow. If a blog covers something, print may follow.  But big TV doesn’t like to follow big TV too often.

21. Celebrities, heroes, beautiful people, star athletes, leaders, and the already famous.

22. Tomorrow’s news today and not yesterday’s news tomorrow.

23. To expose the ridiculous, champion what’s right, question authority, and come off looking like geniuses.

24. Something that the reporter/host is personally interested in.

25.  To hear from people it trusts and knows, such as MEDIA CONNECT!

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person


Friday, October 19, 2012

Newsweek Is On Hospice Care



It’s hard to believe that an iconic brand with 1.5 million weekly subscribers is going under but Newsweek magazine will no longer publish a printed version come 2013.  The magazine would have turned 80 and is now, instead counting down its final issues.  Call it a print hospice.  Call it the death of an era.

A weekly print publication has two challenges:  print publications are in decline because of the Internet.  The weekly news cycle doesn’t work with free online news and commentary found on Web sites and blogs that are updated every second.  Further, new readers are preferring digital to print.

Most businesses don’t become octogenarians, Newsweek, to its credit, won’t disappear, but its format clearly is changing.  The all-digital version, owned by the Daily Beast, will be called Newsweek Global.

A little over a decade ago the magazine, with double its current subscriber base, battled Time and U.S. News & World Report for news weekly supremacy.  Now just Time remains standing – who knows for how long.

I guess it’s not a surprise, but it’s a disappointment, to see an old friend leave your home after so many years.

I grew up reading it and enjoying its analysis, commentary, and in-depth reporting. It was a little bit like the show 60 Minutes, but in magazine form.  I always preferred Time magazine, but I’d read Newsweek as well.

I bought a copy of Newsweek recently and after reading it I wondered how much longer it could  publish what has become an outdated format, an ugly interior design, and a thinner content.   Now I know the answer.

Newsweek is in hospice and all that can be done is to make its coming death a fast and easy one.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Subject Line Is Your Pitch



When you speak to someone about your book, especially a savvy member of the news media, you have  about 15 seconds to win them over.  Your ability to be concise and economical in your word count will be just as important as the appeal of what you have to say.  If they don’t hear something that interests them quickly you will have lost them.


The same holds true with e-mail.

Before a journalist opens an e-mail your e-mail must do two things:  pass a spam filter and its subject line must be interesting enough for the recipient to continue reading the rest.

What makes for a great subject line?

<1. Keep it short and to the point.  If the subject line is not clear as to what the recipient should expect to read, he or she will send it to the trash.

<2. If it’s in all caps and shouting at the journalist, it too, will likely get deleted.

<3. The subject line should reference that you have a guest or story idea.

<4. Something general could work if it’s timely.  For instance, let’s say the presidential debate just happened and you have a book on tax policy.   You can use a subject line like this:  “Tax Expert Author Disputes Romney Numbers.”  You didn’t have to name the author –unless he’s well known, you didn’t mention the book title – unless it’s a bestseller, and you didn’t reference which Romney numbers are in dispute.  Save the details for the email –and even then -- don’t go on and on.

 5. Throw in words like “new” or “future” or “trend” –the media likes to feel they are treated something fresh or insightful.

<6. Reference other media – if it’s big. For instance, maybe you were just featured in Glamour magazine.  Use that to leverage more media exposure, such as to radio or TV producers.  Try this:  “What this author didn’t tell Glamour.”  It invites mystery.  Or, how about, “Glamour Magazine Author Reveals 6 Relationship Secrets.”

<7. Highlight a point of view: “Author Says Parents Are Failing with Homework” or “Author Reveals Why Drugs Should be Legalized.”

<8. Issue a warning; “Author Warns of the Flu Epidemic” or “Author Calculates Oil Gone by 2046.”

<9. Do not curse or use obscenities, especially if it’s the first thing a journalist sees.

<10. Personalize it.  Keep in mind what you know of the show, blog or publication when you write the subject line.  For instance, if it’s a pitch related to comedy that’s going to The View, appeal to Whoopi Goldberg as a comic.  Try:  “Guaranteed to Make Whoopi Laugh.”

<11. Stay away from religion, politics, and sex unless that is what your book is about.

<12. Be cautious on making statements on values – the journalist may not share your values.

<13. Don’t offer something in the subject line that you can’t back up in your email.  If the subject line is too outrageous or unbelievable it will be discarded.

<14. If the email is time-sensitive, say so.  For instance, if the email is about an event in the journalist’s city then say something like “Author to Speak About Obesity at Oct. 25 Event.”

<15. Consider using a question as your subject line, provided it invites the recipient to read on.  “Author Asks:  Should Congress Act to Protect Animals?”  or “New Book Asks:  Is It Time to Raise Taxes?”

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

25 Tips On What The Media Really Wants



Here are 25 things  the news media wants, expects, even demands:

1. Your book if it ties into the current news cycle.

2. You to only contact them if the book is relevant to what they cover.

3. Something that is actually new to report.

4. You to email them but not blitz them with a barrage of contacts.

5. You to give them a pitch in 15 seconds.

6. To never receive a voice mail unless it’s truly about an A-list author.

7. A guest that is reliable and respectful.

8. Authors that are media coached.

9. Their viewers/listeners/readers to be entertained, enlightened, informed, and inspired by authors.

10. An exclusive.

11. A new twist to a familiar story.

12. An author who is controversial.

13. Your advance review copy four months prior to publication - for book reviewers 
       and long-lead publications.

14. To beat its competing media outlets to the punch.

15.  A story that writes itself – so they don’t have to do a ton of research.

16. Bullet points and targeted press releases.

17. Free books, especially printed copies.

18. An author that doesn’t sound like a commercial.

19. Authors and books that don’t clash with its editorial ideology.

20. A book or an author to localize, where possible, the story.

21. To champion certain ideas and will use your book to channel them.

22.  Likes visuals – show them a good photo or short video.

23.  Not to be overwhelmed by 20 links or buttons to blogs, FB, etc.

24. Good humor, but nothing too racy if it’s a mainstream media outlet.

25. For you not to say how great a book is, but to state without hyperbole, why there’s an urgency to cover your book now.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person